An Indulgent Evening At Mistral

I always say that one of the things I love most about being a food blogger is the incredible people I've gotten to meet, so I was thrilled when Bianca of Confessions of a Chocoholic planned a dinner at Mistral and I finally had the opportunity to meet her as well as hang out with some other food bloggers I know and love.

Last week was not the best week I've ever had at work (it may have been one of the worst, actually), so on Friday at 5 p.m., I bolted out the door, happy I had fun plans for the evening. I took the T to Copley and met up with Meghan of Travel, Wine, and Dine. Neither of us were happy about the cold, windy weather surrounding us and the raindrops we were being pelted with, so we set off toward our destination immediately.

The moment we walked in the door at Mistral, I started to feel better. The dimly lit, white-walled restaurant had a warm, welcoming atmosphere. We found thickly cushioned chairs in the bar area, plopped ourselves on them, and started looking over the drink menu. We both decided to try the Harvest Martini -- I think the weather may have had some bearing on that decision. The drink was like a slightly sweetened, lightly spiked apple cider and came with a cinnamon stick.

After we were settled in with our drinks and deep in conversation about what was new in our lives, Daisy from Indulge Inspire Imbibe walked in. The waiters at Mistral pulled another comfy chair over for her, and she sat with us and ordered the Smoky Apple Martini.

Soon after, Elina from Healthy and Sane walked in, another chair was dragged over, and another drink was ordered. We all knew each other from our recent trip to King Arthur so it was nice chatting and catching up before dinner.

Bianca came in a few moments later, and we all got to meet her and hugs were passed around. It's funny how well you feel like you know someone even when you've never met them before. I guess our blogs do get that personal sometimes.

We realized we were out of comfy chairs and decided to head over to our table. The five of us were seated at a round table near the center of the restaurant. Being food bloggers, we all whipped out our cameras and the menus and started deciding what to eat. While we were comparing and analyzing the choices, the general manager came over and introduced himself. He asked what we were planning to order and said he would send a couple things out for us and also take care of dessert. While he sent out the beef tenderloin pizza, tuna tartare, and four desserts, we paid for everything else.

We decided to just order a bunch of appetizers and some pizzas as those things would be easier to share. We placed our order, and the waiter brought out an adorable bread boule and set it before us with some butter and a chickpea spread. We dug into the bread and then the appetizers began arriving.

First came the tuna tartare ($19). I have heard from a number of people that Mistral has an amazing tuna tartare appetizer, and those people were not wrong. I loved it. It's served with a crown of crispy wontons and ginger and soy. Apparently, this dish has been on the menu since Mistral opened, among many of the other appetizers.

Next came the beef tenderloin pizza with mashed potatoes, caramelized onions, and white truffle oil. I was so excited to see the thin slices of rare meat topping the pizza. (Honestly, I can't understand why anyone would want their tenderloin cooked any longer.) And while mashed potatoes may seem like a weird pizza topping, they are actually one of my favorite toppings. (There's a bar/restaurant in New Haven, Conn., called Bar, that has the best mashed potato pizza if you're ever in the area.) The crust was thin and crunchy, and I really enjoyed the toppings. I also think the pizza is a good value ($24) compared to the beef tenderloin entree ($40), which has many of the same components.

After we finished those two appetizers, the rest of our appetizers came out very quickly, and our table was just covered with food to choose from. We decided to order a bottle of wine to go with the array of appetizers, and let Meghan select the perfect bottle because she's the wine expert among us. She consulted with the waiter, and we ended up with a lovely pinot noir.

Back to the appetizers... we ordered the foie gras ($21), which was seared and served on top of brioche stuffed with duck confit and dried cherries! As soon as the waiter told us it came with duck confit, there was no doubt in my mind that it would be incredible. The dish was so rich and so flavorful.

We sampled another pizza, which had white cheese, whipped ricotta, hot peppers, sea salt, and arugula on it ($22). It also had a nice, crisp crust. Wimp that I am, I picked off the hot peppers, and decided the pizza had just enough heat that way. My dining companions loved the spiciness with the intended peppers on top.

We tried the Maine crab ravioli ($18) -- rock crab wrapped in wonton wrappers in a thyme and tomato broth. I'm a fan of pretty much anything with tomatoes, and these ravioli did not disappoint.

We thought it would be good to order a side of vegetables to cut the heaviness of all the other appetizers we got, so we tried the brussels sprouts. They had a sort of sweet and sour taste to them and we all wondered whether it was vinegar or something else adding that other dimension of flavor.

The final appetizer was the most indulgent. We debated ordering it but then ultimately decided that it would be worth it. We tried an item that had just been added to the menu with a $48-dollar price tag: white Alba and black Burgundy truffle macaroni with Madeira and Parmesan. It was creamy and sweet, with the pleasant flavor only truffles can impart. While I think it's a bit much to spend when just two people are dining out, it was a good thing for us to split five ways and each get a little taste. I'm not sorry at all that we splurged! (Just look at all those truffle shavings on top!)

Stuffed from all the appetizers we tried, but always having room for dessert, I looked forward to the final course. I think a lot of people skip dessert when they go out to eat, but if you dine at a restaurant with a designated pastry chef, I think it's important to try to dessert. You may find some really interesting things. Here, the manager arranged for us to try four different desserts. Try might be an understatement. We cleaned every plate and bowl. They were all very good, but I'll start with my least favorite and move on to my favorite.

The huckleberry pie with Meyer lemon and vanilla bean ice cream ($11) was delicious, but when it comes to dessert, I'm more of a chocolate girl than a fruit girl.

Next would be the creme brulee ($10). Honestly, who doesn't love creme brulee? There's that perfect layer of browned, sugary crust on top that gives way to a luscious, creamy filling. After working at a bakery, I definitely have even more appreciation for this dessert. It's tough to get the baking time just right for that perfect texture, and it's even tougher to get the right amount of sugar on top and take it to just the right color. This one was perfect and came with a little sugar cookie and some raspberries.

Now, onto the chocolate desserts. The warm chocolate torte ($11) with its molten center was rich and definitely tasted of bittersweet chocolate. It was set on a puddle of creme anglaise and served with vanilla ice cream. While it's not a very unusual dessert, the chocolate flavor of this one was spot on, and I really enjoyed it.

And finally, the newest dessert on the menu -- an interesting interpretation of a s'more: chocolate mousse topped with a graham cracker crumble and crowned with browned marshmallow -- was my favorite. We all loved it, but, again, what's not to love here?

After dessert it was time to head home, so we all went outside and parted ways. The rain wasn't so miserable now as I felt so warm and happy from the food and good company. Elina and Daisy headed off to Back Bay, and Bianca and I waited for Meghan to get a cab and then got in one ourselves to head over the river into Cambridge.

I had a lovely evening and really enjoyed dinner. Thank you, Bianca, for planning this! And thank you, Mark and Mistral, for having us!
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